Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles
Free Porcupine Society/5 Rue Christine, 2004
Acquired: Love Garden, Used, 2006
I remember reviewing this for Punk United when indie rock was pretty much occupying the role punk had played for the last few years. I'd heard Fabulous Muscles, along with a handful of staples (In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, etc) and I don't know how but this record really clicked with me. It's weird, a little deranged, and pretty sad. But it sounds gorgeous, and the sounds Jamie Stewart makes when he throws a record together are still unrivaled. Even now, he's still kicking ass. His latest, Dear God, I Hate Myself illustrates a move towards poppier jams without sacrificing any of the trademarks that make a Xiu Xiu record worth listening to. This is his masterpiece, though. This is the one people are going to look back on (ok, maybe Knife Play too). “I Luv the Valley OH!” is sung with such a primal, uneasey yelp that it's hard not to get emotional, even if you don't know what you're getting emotional about. Despite the weirdness of some of the jams (i.e. the spoken-word “Support Our Troops in Iraq OH!” which was recorded at the onset of the Iraq War and has proven to be a little prescient, at least in isolated cases), there's a pop structure that grounds most of them, or makes them highly listenable. The title track, which is ostensibly about a gay man getting beaten to death by his lover but still loving him, and the soaring, epic “Clowne Towne,”both work past their subject matter and are catchy, and maybe that's the point. Like “here's a pop song, and it's a pop song about rape. How do you feel about that?” (see: “Nieces Pieces”).